Copyright & Legal Issues

Copyright issues are handled differently for Digital Content. Learn about copyright issues relevant to Ebooks and Digital Content from the perspectives of the publisher, author, library and user. Please see the ALA Resources page for a selection of webinars relating to Copyright Issues and digital content.

icon representing digital content issues

  1. Library Copyright Alliance website (continually updating) The Library Copyright Alliance (LCA) consists of three major library associations — the American Library Association, the Association of Research Libraries, and the Association of College and Research Libraries. The purpose of the LCA is to work toward a unified voice and common strategy for the library community in responding to and developing proposals to amend national and international copyright law and policy for the digital environment.

  2. Kevin Smith – A Big Win for Fair Use and Libraries (October 11, 2012) This Duke University Libraries blog post is one of the latest covering the Georgia State University (GSU) lawsuit. The case, known as Cambridge University Press, et al v. Patton et al, was filed in 2008, alleging that that GSU’s e-reserve system was too liberal, making over 6,700 total works available for some 600-plus courses, and “inviting students to download, view, and print such materials without permission of the copyright holder.” See related blog posts on Scholarly Communications @ Duke (category: Copyright Issues & Legislation).

  3. One Librarian’s Perspective – “Opening the eBook Market” (January 12, 2011)The author argues that libraries should take more responsibility for its eBook collections by deciding where and how to house content and protect copyright rather than leaving it up to vendors.

  4. Jennifer Howard - "Publishers Grapple with thorny issues of protecting Copyright and going Digital," - The Chronicle (June 5, 2011)The article offers insight into small university publishers' points of view into how best to create and share ebooks and digital content while maintaining their copyright protection.

  5. Jennifer Howard - "What You Don't Know about Copyright but Should," - The Chronicle (May 29, 2011)This is an interview with a lawyer / librarian who specializes in copyright issues at an academic library.  The author and librarian share guidelines for operating safely within copyright laws, while simultaneously discovering innovative ways to share information.

  6. Library Journal - “ACRL 2011: A Rallying Cry for Leadership and Risk Taking in the Copyright Wars,” (April 2011) Two papers presented at the recent 2011 Association of College and Research Libraries Conference in Philadelphia drove home the shaky use and understanding of copyright law on university campuses.
  7. Copyright and Technology--"Are Libraries Locked Out of the E-Book World?" (February 27, 2011) The section of the copyright law (Section 108) that might allow libraries to purchase and lend e-books doesn’t work at the moment because major publishers require digital rights management software on their digital titles, which means libraries are licensing the titles.

  8. ."Libraries, Library Workers, & Copyright Matters," YouTube, (Feb 24, 2011) [VIDEO] Loida Garcia-Febo, Chair of the ALA Intellectual Freedom Round Table talks to Jim Neal about libraries, library workers and copyright matters. Jim Neal is the Vice President for Information Services and University Librarian at Columbia University in the City of New York.

  9. Digitization and Democracy: The Conflict Between the Amazon kindle License Agreement and the Role of Libraries in a Free Society (12/23/2010) The article makes a compelling argument on behalf of libraries for changing the current Copyright Law.

  10. The Section 108 Study Group Report, 2008: Independent Report sponsored by The United States Copyright Office and the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program of the Library of Congress. (March 2008)This group included lawyers, representatives of media and software companies, publishers, and academic librarians, and worked on this report for 3 years. While the report lays out the law and the issues clearly, the group’s recommendations were based on consensus, which meant that recommendations like this one were typical:  “Although all agreed that the role of libraries and archives in preserving copyrightable works is a matter of national concern, there was no agreement on whether a recommendation in this area was needed, and, if so, what kind of recommendation would be appropriate.”